The University Record, July 30, 1997

Research and undergrad education focus of presentation to Board ofRegents

As one of the nation's leading research universities and educational institutions, the University assumes "a special responsibility forensuring that its extensive effort in research, scholarship and creative activity adds value to the education of its undergraduate students,"said Frederick C. Neidhardt, acting vice president for research, at the July Regents' meeting.

Neidhardt described the ways in which the University can enhance "what it means to have a Michigan education by building on current efforts to involve undergraduate students in research."

"Many programs inaugurated in the past decade, such as the UndergraduateResearch Opportunity Program (UROP), have augmented long-standing opportunities for undergraduate research. Today, there are many doorways leading to undergraduate involvement in research, scholarship and creative activity, and many typesof such experiences."

Several programs on campus provide one-on-one relationships between faculty and undergraduate students, he said, in what might be viewed asa more traditional model of research experience. Independent study, a seniorthesis, or a design or performance project also offer an opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in open-ended inquiry.

"The University's development of a "living-learning program"strategy provides a second avenue for undergraduates to experience aspectsof independent research and scholarship," Neidhardt said. "Andnow some formal courses are being transformed in ways to incorporate experienceswithout pre-determined or correct outcomes.

"No single model of research experience is suitable for every studentor for every discipline," said Neidhardt. "The strength of ourcurrent approach is the development of a range of opportunities."

He cited five features that characterize undergraduate involvement inresearch:

The U-M's accomplishments in integrating research and undergraduate education have not gone unnoticed, Neidhardt said. In February, the U-Mwas one of 10 research-intensive universities to receive a RecognitionAward for the Integration of Research and Education from the National ScienceFoundation. This award specifically recognized the success of UROP and the Women in Science and Engineering-Residential Program (WISE-RP). UROPinvolves first- and second-year students in research as part of their undergraduateeducation. WISE-RP seeks to create a supportive academic environment outsidethe classroom in order to improve the retention of undergraduate womenin science and engineering programs.

Neidhardt concluded that Michigan has in place "a foundation thatprovides a remarkable opportunity for the University. If we can systematizeand expand our successful research opportunity programs and simultaneously find ways to infuse the regular curriculum with key elements of research--inquiry,discovery, creation, teaming and mentoring--we will have significantlyenhanced what it means to have a Michigan undergraduate education."